December 2, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from John 7:31-36.
But many of the crowed began to believe in him, and said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man has done?” The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring about him to this effect, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent guards to arrest him. So Jesus said, “I will be with you only a little while longer, and then I will go to the one who sent me. You will look for me but not find [me], and where I am you cannot come.” So the Jews said to one another, “Where is he going that we will not find him? Surely he is not going to the dispersion among the Greeks to teach the Greeks, is he? What is the meaning of his saying, ‘You will look for me and not find [me], and where I am you cannot come’?”
This reading reminds me of Fr. Mike’s homily yesterday about the gospel — stay awake, Jesus tells us. We are prone to sleep walk through our lives until it becomes too late to be with Jesus, too late because we die.
All I have is this very moment. The past is done and gone, lingering only in memories and with some regrets. The next moment I may not draw a breath; it happens every day to an estimated 155,000 people around the world. Is Jesus in my thoughts as are those I love? Am I talking to with him? Am I acting in faith as he shows me in the gospels? Am I loving others, even my enemies, as he did? I might tell myself that I don’t have time to do that every moment; I’ve got others things to do. Fr. Mike called me on that yesterday. “Yes, you do,” he said. But he said that those who are honest with themselves, say ‘I don’t want to,’ because it will mean living in a way I’m not prepared to do.
Whose world do I live in? As much as I want to believe it, it’s not my world. I don’t own any part of it and I have not control over any of it. Any ownership or control I think I have is ephemeral; I will have nothing at the moment of my death. This is God’s world that I live in and I’d better wake up to that fact. I only have this moment to live in the kingdom of God, which is what He wants of me. As Moloney writes in The Gospel of John, “Locking in their [the Jews] world, which rejects anything human origins for Jesus, they will search for Jesus there, but will not find him. The world of Jesus, the world of the Father, is beyond their ability either to understand or enter….This disarray, however, comes from their lack of preparedness to hear the words of Jesus and respond to them positively. Thus they continue to ask questions to which Jesus has already provided answers.” That sounds like me alright. I think I’m listening, but I keep asking the same questions that he has already answered.
The key is that I have to respond positively. I have to live the words of Jesus every moment. That’s what it means to be awake. It doesn’t mean that I have to spend every moment in prayer or reading scripture or meditating. It means living the gospel. I tend to consider the gospel when I have serious decisions to make or when I’m troubled. The gospel isn’t meant for those times so much as it is meant for the countless everyday encounters with others, for the sometimes hateful thoughts I have, for the inclination to hold on to what I have instead of giving freely. Most of the time I know what Jesus would do, I just don’t want to do it. I’d rather sleep walk.
Jesus is telling me that he will only be with me a little while longer. I don’t want to take that as a warning so much as an opportunity to live this moment in his world instead of my own.